Friends Till the End
A brown Draik walked through the snow near Neopia Central, his bag bulging with Christmas food and gifts. The snow covering the ground made it look like vanilla ice cream. The Draik whistled a bit, glad to be done with his shopping, until a cold wind forced him to pull his coat tighter around him.
He was so focused on the cold that he didn’t notice someone sneaking up behind him and swiping something from the bag. Not until he noticed the bag he was carrying suddenly felt lighter. He looked inside to see a bag of apples were missing.
The Draik looked around, and saw a blue blur disappear behind a nearby building, and he followed it. When he peeked around the corner, he saw a blue Lutari pull out one of the apples and start munching on it. Nearby, there was a cardboard box and a ratty old blanket. The Draik realized that he must be homeless.
As he stepped around the corner, the Lutari turned and noticed him. With fear in his eyes, he stood and backed up a bit, like he was getting ready to run. The Draik stopped advancing and held out a claw in a gesture of friendship.
“I’m not going to harm you,” the Draik reassured him. “I’m Liosako. What’s your name?”
After a moment’s hesitation, the Lutari answered with, “Nomonal.”
Liosako glanced over at the box and blanket again before bringing his eyes back up to Nomonal. His eyes didn’t have fear anymore; they were more filled with sadness and hopefulness. Liosako suddenly felt that he couldn’t leave him there.
“How about you stay with me for a while?’ he asked. “It’s the Christmas season, and nobody deserves to be alone on Christmas.”
“I... I can’t,” Nomonal answered. “Lutari law says that when we pick an owner, we need to stay with that owner for life. If an owner and a Lutari ever separate, they can’t ever live with another.”
“So that’s why Lutaris always run away when they‘re abandoned? They don’t want to break Lutari law?” Liosako asked, and Nomonal nodded. “Well, I don’t have an owner, so staying with me for the time being won’t break your laws.”
Nomonal gave a smile, and then followed Liosako as he led the Lutari through the twisting streets to his home. It was one story, but it was large enough for at least three people. The outside looked like it was painted white, but as they approached, Nomonal noticed it was actually marble.
“Nice place,” Nomonal remarked, as they passed through the door.
The inside was even more impressive than the outside, if that was even possible. The walls were built with the same marble as the outside, and the place was decorated with Kauvara and Faerie furniture. A beautifully decorated Christmas tree, with some presents under it, sat in one corner. And there was a roaring fire in the stone fireplace.
“Do you live here alone?” Nomonal asked.
“Yes, after my grandfather passed. I took care of him while he was sick, and he returned the favor by leaving me everything in his will,” Liosako answered, with a touch of sadness in his voice. “I see other members of my family in seasons like Christmas, since they live all the way over on Krawk Island.”
In the days leading up to Christmas, Liosako and Nomonal put up more decorations, and spent a lot of time together, as they waited for the rest of Liosako’s family to sail from Krawk Island.
Nomonal learned more about Liosako’s family, and how they were a mix of Krawks and Draiks, most of them living on Krawk Island, others living in many other parts. He was the only one that chose Neopia Central.
Nomonal talked about his original owner, when she abandoned him in a fit of anger after the Lutari Paint Brush she bought did nothing a few months ago. He slipped away and ran after learning about that. His owner tried to chase him down, but he got away.
“I can imagine why she was angry about spending 20 million on a Paint Brush that didn’t work, but it had nothing to do with you. That was no reason to try and abandon you,” Liosako answered.
“I have some things to pick up. I trust that you’ll be fine here alone?” Liosako asked a couple of days later.
Nomonal nodded, as Liosako walked out the door. He waited until Liosako left, and then pulled out a hidden Virtupets two way radio. He flicked it on and whispered, “I’m in, and it’s definitely a positive. This may be one of the best I’ve seen yet.”
“Good,” a female voice said from the other end. “I’ll have some people come and pick up the items. What’s the address?”
Nomonal was about to tell her, when he noticed a picture on the mantle. The picture was of a much younger Liosako, standing next to a much older Draik, probably the grandfather he mentioned before. Nomonal then remembered what Liosako said before, that the house and everything in it used to belong to his grandfather.
To Liosako, the things in this place were worth more than the neopoints he could get for the items. They were worth the memories and the times he spent with him...
“NOMONAL!” the voice screamed, snapping him out of his thoughts.
“Now... isn’t a good time,” he said, thinking fast. “I think... if we wait a few days... we can get more.”
The person on the other end obviously wasn’t happy, but she said, “Fine, contact me when it is.”
As the connection was cut, Nomonal breathed a sigh of relief. He realized, almost too late, that Liosako would be devastated to lose those items, since they were the only things that were left of his grandfather. And, even though he and his partner pulled this before, he couldn’t bring himself to do it this time. There was only one thing for him to do.
When Liosako got home, he found the place devoid of life, except for a note left on the table. Not bothering to kick his boots off, he rushed over and read it.
I had to come clean and tell you the truth before I left. The truth is that, while I did have an owner that tried to abandon me, I’m not homeless. A female Acara by the name of Masila took me in. I have to work my way into homes and find a way to get the person’s valuables in her hands. If I refused, she’d kick me out.
I lied to her when I told her about this place, and didn’t reveal the address. I realized that the memory of these things are much more value than their monetary worth, and I couldn’t bring myself to have them stolen. I also realized that it would be a rotten thing to do after the friendship you showed me. Thinking about that brought on a massive wave of guilt, when I thought of the other places I did this to.
I’m leaving to tell Masila that I’m done working for her, no matter what she decides to do. After that, I don‘t know what’s going to happen. I’m sorry I had to leave you like this, but I don’t deserve a friend like you. And despite what you said, I do deserve to be alone. But thank you for what you did for me.
Have a merry Christmas.
Without a word, he grabbed the bag he walked in with and rushed out of the house. On a total guess, he soon approached the place where he first found him. He found the box, and the blanket, but it was empty. A sound behind him made him turn around.
Nomonal stood there, with a mixture of fear and surprise etched on his face. He was bruised up and had a fresh black eye, as if Masila had him beat up before letting him leave. Nomonal noticed this, and managed a small smile, as he scratched the back of his head in embarrassment.
“Masila doesn’t like people leaving, so a couple of her henchman beat me up enough so I could barely move, then threw me out into the snow. It was a little while before I could pull myself out and come back over here. But I’m all right. They’ll heal.”
Liosako nodded before handing over the small bag
“Merry Christmas,” he said.
Nomonal pulled out the gift. It was a small clay statue of the two of them, standing side by side. Liosako made it in his spare time after Nomonal started to live with him. He was going to give it to him for Christmas, but felt that he could give it early, under the circumstances.
“It’s great,” Nomonal said. “Thanks, Lio.”
“You know, if you have no idea where to go, you could...” Liosako started, before Nomonal cut him off.
“No, I’m not living with you. After Masila kicked me out, I’ve had some time to think about it, and I’m returning to Lutari Island. I’ll be leaving once the weather warms up,” Nomonal proclaimed.
“It’ll be sad to see you go, but I know that no matter how far away we are, we still can be friends. Agreed?” Liosako asked, holding out his hand.
Nomonal nodded and took Liosako’s hand into his own.
“Agreed,” he answered